Maddie's Idea Lab Impact

Below you will find the results of our Maddie's® Idea Lab research projects. Browse results to help you enhance lifesaving, find simple and inexpensive solutions at your organization and more!

Foster Care for Stressed and Fearful Dogs

Rhea Moriarty December 31, 2017   Research Complete   Phase 1

Longmont Humane Society evaluated an expansion of their foster program to include foster caregivers trained to foster dogs who are shy, anxious or otherwise stressed in the kennel environment. A total of 33 dogs were sent to foster homes through this project. Of 33 dogs, 31 were successfully adopted (94% live release rate). Learn More

Foster Team Implementation at Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society

Steven Rogelberg and Lea WilliamsJune 30, 2017   Research Complete   Phase 1

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte worked with Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) to evaluate the implementation of a foster team. PAWS successfully implemented the program; their participation aided in further development of the foster team concept. Learn More

Foster Teams Survey

Steven Rogelberg and Lea WilliamsJune 30, 2017   Research Complete   Survey

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte evaluated the level of interest in developing teams of people (foster teams) who work together to find homes for foster pets. Foster Teams are comprised of people who fulfill different roles, such as team lead, photographer, pet transport, caregivers, etc. The results revealed that there was stronger interest in foster teams among prospective vs. existing foster caregivers. Many respondents felt that foster teams may lead to more community involvement in fostering and more adoptions. Learn More

Foster Team Implementation at Nine Shelters

Steven Rogelberg and Lea WilliamsJune 15, 2018   Research Complete   Phase 3

The University of North Carolina evaluated the implementation of foster teams at nine animal shelters. Overall, there was high excitement for but low engagement in the project. Participants reported that there many organizational barriers to implement the program. Smaller shelters were more successful in implementing foster teams than were larger shelters. Foster care managers reported a lighter workload and more support when teams were implemented. Learn More

"Home to Home" Pilot Program

Denise Deisler and Nikki HarrisFebruary 15, 2019   Research Complete   Phase 1

Jacksonville Humane Society's "Home to Home" program empowered people surrendering their pets by assisting them with rehoming their pets, negating the need to surrender them. The project provided rehoming support for 678 pets and successfully rehomed 208 pets. Learn More

Accuracy of Breed Identification in Shelter Dogs and the Effect of Breed on Perceived Adoptability

Anne Runkel, Amelia Funghi and April StevensonOctober 5, 2016   Research Complete   Basic Research

Berkeley Animal Care Services (BACS) assessed the accuracy of breed assignment by shelter staff and whether the display of DNA analysis on kennels impacted adoptability. The study found that displaying DNA results tended to improve a dog's adoption potential. Predominant breed assigned by shelter staff was often inaccurate, which is consistent with other studies, and did not increase a dog's adoption potential. Learn More

Behavioral Interventions to Promote Dog Adoptions

Alexandra ProtopopovaMarch 31, 2018   Research Complete   Phase 3

Texas Tech University studied meet-and-greets (e.g., the first physical meeting of an adoptable dog and a potential adopter) in relation to adoption rates in 8 shelters. The study found that shelters that already have more structured meet-and-greets adopt out a higher percentage of dogs, as compared to shelters with unstructured meet-and-greets. However, the results of implementing this behavioral intervention's best practices (baseline vs. experimental condition) were inconclusive. Learn More

Canine Parvovirus Treatment in Shelters

Ellen Jefferson and Kevin HoreckaMay 31, 2018   Research Complete   Phase 1

In part one of this project, Austin Pets Alive! evaluated the effectiveness of their in-shelter parvovirus treatment program and assessed the average treatment cost. It also researched factors that can increase or decrease the likelihood of dog survival. The project found that nearly 90% of the dogs treated survived parvovirus with supportive care, and that this care can be given at fairly minimal cost (approximately $53 and 8 hours of care per dog). In the second part of this project, both adopters of parvo-treated puppies and adopters of puppies who had not been infected (e.g., the matched control group) were surveyed regarding any post-adoption medical and/or behavioral conditions. The study found no significant impact on behavioral or health outcomes in parvo-treated puppies as compared to healthy puppies. Learn More

Community Kitten Foster Initiative

Christi MetropoleFebruary 28, 2018   Research Complete   Phase 1

Stray Cat Alliance's Safe-At-Home project prevents unweaned kittens, who are at-risk due to their inability to eat on their own, from entering the shelter. The program works by intercepting community members bringing these kittens to the shelter and encouraging them to foster the kittens until they are old enough to be adopted. The program educates community foster caregivers on how to care for orphaned kittens and provides supplies and veterinary care. In 2017, the goal was to save 400 - 450 kittens; the program cared for 563 kittens and saved 468 (83%) of them. Learn More

Do Labels Matter? A Pilot Study.

Liz Finch, Gary Patronek, Michelle Logan, Stephanie Macgill and Kelly KramerAugust 31, 2018   Research Complete   Phase 1

Best Friends Animal Society and Dr. Gary Patronek completed a pilot study at PACC investigating the effect of breed labeling, or lack thereof, on the adoption of shelter dogs. This study also compared breed assignments in the shelter's database with DNA data. However, because DNA analysis results were almost always not back before the dog was adopted, this part of the study involved primarily a comparison of staff guess of breed to providing no breed information. The results of this pilot study revealed that having no breed information on kennel cards contributed to a longer length of stay (LOS). Further investigation is needed before these results should be used to impact shelter protocols. Learn More

Evaluation of Newly Developed Lifesaving Protocol for Prematurely Born Kittens

Sheryl BlancatoApril 30, 2019   Research Complete   Phase 1

The study evaluated the success of Second Chance Animal Services' protocol to save pregnant feral cats and their kittens by performing a C-section, spaying the feral moms, returning them to their habitats, and providing care for kittens until adoption. Kittens from litters born to reasonably healthy moms were all successfully adopted as pets and extremely well-adjusted. Learn More

Evaluation of Temporary Fostering Programs on Shelter Dog Welfare and Future Behavior in Adoptive Homes at Four US Animal Shelters

Clive Wynne, Erica Feuerbacher and Lisa GunterApril 30, 2018   Research Complete   Phase 3

Arizona State University investigated the benefits of short-term fostering on shelter dog welfare at four animal shelters in the United States. Dog activity and urinary cortisol (a hormonal indicator of stress) were used to assess dog behavior and stress. The study demonstrated a reduction in stress (cortisol) when dogs stayed in foster homes. When dogs returned to the shelter, urinary cortisol returned to baseline levels. Shelter dogs with the highest baseline stress levels showed the most dramatic reductions in cortisol while in foster care. Learn More

Evaluation of Temporary Fostering Programs on Shelter Dog Welfare and Future Behavior in Adoptive Homes

Erica Feuerbacher and Lisa GunterJuly 31, 2017   Research Complete   Phase 1

Carroll College evaluated a short-term foster program for dogs at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah. The results suggest that dogs' stress decreases while in foster care. The researchers observed a statistically significant decrease in dogs' cortisol levels (a hormonal indicator of stress) while on sleepovers. Dogs' cortisol returned to baseline levels after returning to the shelter, but did not increase above pre-foster levels. Learn More

Exploring Foster Programs and Their People, Management and Leadership Challenges

Steven RogelbergSeptember 30, 2016   Research Complete   Basic Research

Organizations that utilize foster programs are eclectic in structure and nature. The purpose of this University of North Carolina, Charlotte project was to learn about the structure of fostering organizations, what they need to carry out their missions and the principal challenges that they face from the perspective of people, leadership, and management. Learn More

Formalization and Analysis of ARK Transfer Programs

Mary Lou Marganis and Kristen ClancyJune 30, 2017   Research Complete   Phase 1

Animal Rescue Konnection (ARK) developed and formalized a simple yet effective and inexpensive set of programs that successfully transfer dogs displaying behavioral struggles in shelters to environments that support and encourage positive behavior, improving their chances for re-homing. Learn More

Foster Caregiver Turnover Study

Steven Rogelberg and Lea WilliamsJune 30, 2017   Research Complete   Basic Research

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte evaluated reasons why foster caregivers stop volunteering and ways to retain them. The top five factors were: needing time to focus solely on one's own pets, adopting too many of the animals themselves (e.g. "too many foster fails"), schedule not compatible with foster caregiving, personal issues (e.g. age/health-related issues, taking care of loved ones, divorce, etc.) and living situation not compatible with foster caregiving. Factors that can improve foster caregiver retention include: improved communication, offer more training opportunities, assistance with finding homes for pets, offer more flexible fostering arrangements, more opportunities for caregivers to provide input, and increase recognition/appreciation. Learn More

Foster Field Trips Implementation

Kristen Auerbach, Kelly Duer, Anastasia Shabelansky and Sheila D'ArpinoMarch 7, 2018   Research Complete   Phase 2

This project evaluated whether short-term outings (foster field trips) at Louisville Metro Animal Services improve dog welfare. Dogs that went on field trips showed significant improvement on 15 of 21 measures of behavior, among them increases in playfulness, happiness confidence and relaxation, and decreases in anxiousness, fearfulness and repetitive behavior. During the study, 51 dogs were taken on short-term outings lasting about 3 hours. Learn More

Kitten Fostering 4 Rock Stars

Karen Green, Kristi Brooks and Amy FischerApril 30, 2018   Research Complete   Phase 3

Cat Adoption Team evaluated their program to teach organizations how to implement their Fostering 4 Rock Stars (F4RS) model for training and supporting foster caregivers. Three animal welfare organizations were engaged in this training, which focused on providing caregivers with foster kits, supporting caregivers by providing access to mentors, and making kittens available for adoption before spay/neuter. All groups increased their lifesaving capacity through adoption of the F4RS model. Based on pre- and post- project satisfaction surveys, staff and foster volunteer perceptions of the groups' foster programs also improved significantly. Learn More

Fundraising for Community Kitten Foster Initiative

Christi MetropoleApril 30, 2018   Research Complete   Phase 1

Stray Cat Alliance evaluated the sustainability of the Safe-At-Home project by fundraising for the project within their community. The project used the following channels to increase the support: direct mail, email/social media, major gifts & mid-level donors, sponsorship and events. The project was successful; funding increased from 2017 to 2018. Learn More

Medium and Large Adult Dog Foster Project

Kristen Auerbach, Kelly Duer, Anastasia Shabelansky and Sheila D'ArpinoOctober 19, 2018   Research Complete   Phase 3

The goals of this Austin Animal Center study were to assess the effect of foster care on medium-to-large dogs at multiple shelter locations in the United States and to measure the impact of the foster program on staff morale. The results from this study suggest that dogs benefit dramatically from foster care. Behaviors associated with well-being improved and those associated with poor well-being lessened. Shelters should utilize foster care to improve welfare and find homes for dogs because it has a significant impact on behavior, well-being and adoption. Learn More

Solving Economic Euthanasia by Early Intervention

Steven MornelliMay 31, 2019   Research Complete   Basic Research

This Waggle project evaluated an operating model that utilizes matching donations through crowdfunding to cover costs of veterinary care. Waggle connects with veterinarians and shelters to lend credibility to their crowdfunding. Their findings suggest that matching funds positively impact both the amount of money raised and the probability of reaching 100% of pet owners' financial needs. Learn More

Associations Between Owner Personality and Psychologic Status and the Prevalence of Canine Behavior Problems

Nicholas Dodman and James SerpellFebruary 2, 2017   Research Complete   Basic Research

The Center for Canine Behavior Studies explored the effects of owner personality and mental health on dog behavior and owner's choice of training methods. Overall, the study found significant associations between 4 of the 'Big Five' human personality traits and the prevalence of some canine behavior problems, and a strong association between male owner depression and the use of aversive/punitive training methods. However, there was little evidence that training methods are the primary mechanism for influencing behavior. Learn More

Socialization and Problem Solving in Shelter Cats

Mary C. HowardFebruary 28, 2018   Research Complete   Basic Research

The University of Tennessee studied the relationship between a cat's socialization toward humans and cats' problem-solving ability. According to the Social Intelligence Hypothesis, which states that intelligence evolved due to complex social environments, an animal's social life should result in higher cognitive abilities. The results of this study provide evidence that domestic cats are not only capable of problem-solving, but that their socialization towards humans influences their abilities. Learn More

Post Adoption Behavioral Training Support

Alice NightengaleApril 30. 2019   Research Complete   Phase 1

Denver Animal Protection (DAP) evaluated a post-adoption program which offered free training services and supplies to adopters of dogs with manageable behavioral challenges. Fifty-two dogs and puppies were enrolled in the program and subsequently adopted. By the conclusion of the study, 32 adopters (61.5%) had utilized the post-adoption training services. Adopters who had utilized the training support were less likely to return their dogs (3, 9.4%) than were adopters who did not (5, 25%). None of the 52 dogs were euthanized for behavioral reasons. Learn More

Screening Shelter Cats for FeLV: Balancing Disease Control and Life Saving

Julie LevyJune 30, 2018   Research Complete   Basic Research

The University of Florida evaluated whether cats at Austin Pets Alive! who tested positive for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) at intake would remain positive upon retesting, by 4 different methods, at one month intervals for 6 months. The study found that a single test, or a test given at a single point in time, may not be sufficient to determine if a cat has FeLV or not, and that commonly used confirmatory tests may not be definitive. Practical follow-up tests are needed to help determine disease status with the understanding that FeLV disease states may be better represented as a continuum instead of discrete states. Learn More

The Use, Safety and Perception of Dog Playgroups in Animal Shelters

Anastasia Shabelansky and Sheila SegursonJanuary 7, 2018   Research Complete   Basic Research

Maddie's Fund® conducted a nationalonline survey regarding dog playgroup practices. The majority (83%) of responding organizations utilize playgroups, and with some frequency (71% had> 3 per week). However, the average number of dogs in each playgroup was small indicating that most organizations don't provide dogs with the opportunity to play with other dogs on a regular basis. Learn More

The Use, Policies and Perception of Cat and Dog Foster Care Programs

Anastasia ShabelanskyFebruary 28, 2019   Research Complete   Basic Research

Maddie's Fund® conducted an online survey to gain national baseline data regarding the utilization, structure and policies of cat and dog foster care programs. Foster programs appear to be fairly common practice in US shelter and rescues. However, most foster programs are relatively small with a small number of pets in foster care and a small number of active foster caregivers. The survey discovered a correlation between practices of a foster-centric shelter and having more foster caregivers. The majority of organizations who responded to this survey loved the foster-centric model of animal care, although there was considerably less interest in implementing it. Learn More

Acupuncture as a Means of Reducing Stress in Shelter Cats

Loukia Agapis and Mandy ErdeiAugust 31, 2017   Research Complete   Summer Scholar

This University of Illinois Summer Scholar study investigated whether administering acupuncture to newly incoming shelter adult cats or kittens would reduce stress. The study results did not show significant difference in stress levels between cats that received acupuncture treatment and cats that did not. Learn More

Melatonin to Reduce Stress-Related Behaviors in Recently Impounded Dogs

Micaela YoungAugust 31, 2017   Research Complete   Summer Scholar

The Summer Scholar study aimed to determine if giving melatonin to shelter dogs in the evening would have an effect on their overnight activity, barking, or daytime behaviors. The study results show that melatonin at this dose had no clear effect on anxiety in the shelter environment. The groups differed significantly in two respects: the melatonin group was more active, and the melatonin group spent more time showing multiple defensive behaviors, the opposite of what was expected. Learn More

Effects of Probiotic Treatment on Cats Entering a Shelter

Wing Suen Lau and Bob WeedonSeptember 11, 2017   Research Complete   Summer Scholar

This University of Illinois Summer Scholar research project explored the use of probiotics to decrease occurrences of diarrhea in shelter cats. Forty-four cats were given a Fortiflora-supplemented meal for seven days. Seven percent of probiotic-treated cats developed diarrhea for more than two days, compared to 16% of the control group, suggesting that Fortiflora can be beneficial in reducing the number of cats with diarrhea in shelters. Learn More

Zoonotic Intestinal Parasites and Efficacy of a Treatment Protocol

Melissa Bain and Micaela YoungAugust 31, 2017   Research Complete   Summer Scholar

The University of California at Davis Summer Scholar study aimed to determine if giving melatonin to shelter dogs in the evening would have an effect on their overnight activity, barking, or daytime behaviors.The study results show that melatonin at this dose had no clear effect on anxiety in the shelter environment. The groups differed significantly in two respects: the melatonin group was more active, and the melatonin group spent more time showing multiple defensive behaviors, the opposite of what was expected. Learn More

Comparison of Serotonin Levels between Pit Bull-Type and Non-Pit Bull-Type Dogs in Shelters

Rebecca Ruch-Gallie and Stephen PannoneAugust 31, 2017   Research Complete   Summer Scholar

This Colorado State University summer scholar study aimed to determine and compare 5-HT (serotonin) concentrations in pit bull-type dogs, who would be subject to breed restrictions, and non-pit bull-type dogs entering northern Colorado shelters. The results indicated no significant difference (P=0.085) in average 5-HT serotonin levels between pit bull-type and non-pit bull-type dogs. Learn More

Access to Veterinary Care: Barriers, Best Practices and Public Policy

Linda M. Daugherty, MPANovember 16, 2018   Research Complete   Basic Research

The Access to Veterinary Care Coalition at the University of Tennessee (UT) conducted a national study of pet owners, focusing on populations with inadequate access to veterinary care. The report entitled, Access to Veterinary Care: Barriers, Current Practices, and Public Policy, was released December 17, 2018. The report found that an overwhelming barrier for all income groups of pet owners is financial for all types of care (80.0% for preventative care, 73.8% for sick care, and 55.7% for emergency care). Learn More

Assessment of Short-Term Foster Care Programs in Shelter Animals

Sheila Segurson and Anastasia ShabelanskyOctober 31, 2016   Research Complete   Basic Research

Maddie's Fund® conducted an online survey of shelter and rescue staff and volunteers to gain national baseline data around the duration, utilization, variation and perceived outcomes of short-term foster care programs for cats and dogs. Respondents reported that short-term foster programs often resulted in adoption and/or short-term caregivers becoming longer term foster caregivers. Learn More

The Economic Impacts of Denver's Breed Specific Legislation

Kevin Morris, Sloane Hawes, Devrim Ikizler, Justin Marceau, Katy Loughney and Philip TedeschiSeptember 30, 2018   Research Complete   Basic Research

The University of Denver and Institute for Human-Animal Connection examined how the City and County of Denver's Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) ordinance, Section 8-55, introduced in 1989, has impacted the economic and social systems of the Denver community. The breed ban cost the city millions of dollars to implement and defend but resulted only in inconclusive public safety outcomes. Moreover, the ban has disproportionately affected individuals in underserved communities. Learn More

Sources of Pets in Austin, Texas: A Pilot Study of the Pet Acquisition Questionnaire

Sloane M. Hawes, Josephine Kerrigan, Tess Hupe and Kevin N. MorrisAugust 1, 2019   Research Complete   Basic Research

This survey-based study aimed to better understand pet acquisition history, disposition toward future pet acquisition preferences and social influences in the city of Austin, Texas, with the ultimate purpose of developing policies and procedures that will increase rates of adoption. Although sample size was small (n=86), 81 (94%) respondents reported that they would consider obtaining their next pet from a shelter or rescue organization, whereas on the American Humane Association (2012) survey, only 56% of dog owners and 64% of cat owners said they would obtain their next pet from a shelter or rescue organization. Learn More

Sheltering Organization Policies Regarding Foster Caregivers

Anastasia ShabelanskyFebruary 28, 2019   Research Complete   Basic Research

Part of a larger study: The Use, Policies and Perception of Cat and Dog Foster Care Programs Maddie's Fund® conducted an online survey to gain national baseline data regarding cat and dog foster care programs. This summary specifically focuses on foster caregiver policies of enrollment, support and appreciation. Overall, organizations with more stringent requirements to become a foster caregiver tended to have relatively fewer foster caregivers. Learn More

Trends in Intake and Outcome Data for Colorado Animal Shelters and Rescues

Sloane M. Hawes, Bridget A. Camacho, Philip Tedeschi and Kevin N. MorrisFebruary 1, 2019   Research Complete   Basic Research

This cross-sectional study from the Institute for Human-Animal Connection, at University of Denver, aimed to measure data trends in cat and dog intake, euthanasia, adoption, return to owner, transfers, deaths and live releases in 76 animal shelter and rescue facilities in Colorado from 2000 through 2015. Findings suggest substantial improvements that reflected changes in unhoused animal populations, the impact of resource allocation to spay-neuter programs, adoption marketing, inter-shelter transfers, and evidence-based improvements in operations. Learn More

Factors Informing Outcomes for Older Cats and Dogs in Animal Shelters

Sloane M. Hawes, Josephine Kerrigan and Kevin MorrisMarch 8, 2017   Research Complete   Basic Research

This study from the Institute for Human-Animal Connection, at University of Denver, aimed to assess the factors that inform outcomes of older cats and dogs. This study found that a pet's condition at intake had the greatest impact on the outcomes. Additionally, the application of specialized veterinary care, such as orthopedic surgery or chronic disease maintenance, is discussed as factors that inform higher rates of live outcomes for these senior companion animals. Learn More